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I posted the above photo on social media last month and asked people to guess where it was. Not surprisingly, the Caribbean was an answer many gave. I would have too, had I not taken the photo myself…in Israel.
To be exact, the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth at 1,388 feet (423 meters) below sea level. What most people come for is to bathe in the sea’s curative, uber salty waters due to there being immense amounts of mineral deposits (including salt) with no drainage outlets. It’s so salty, in fact, no living creatures can survive here. In the bible, you’ll even see it referenced by many names, like Sea of the Devil, the Sea of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Stinking Lake.
The waters make you completely buoyant to the point where you effortlessly float.
The iconic photo you’ve likely seen for this place is floating while reading the newspaper which, after trying for myself is not the easiest thing to do in the world unless you like reading a soggy story with bleeding text. This is because you’re so float-able that sometimes your body weight flips you around. But we all know how social media can be, a moment that doesn’t give the whole story.
While photos can sometimes lie, lack of photos sometimes leave out the lesser-known. Before visiting the Dead Sea for myself — now for my second time — I never dreamed I’d see the surreal scene above.
I stayed at the Royal Rimonim Dead Sea Hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. Here the water was nice, but darker and less idyllic — not to mention because of the abundance of tourists more litter. Driving toward Timna Park from the Dead Sea, about 15 minutes past the hotel, I came to this beautiful stretch on my left. I can’t tell you why or how the coast suddenly changes, but I can promise this area exists and is worth spending some time at. It’s another of countless examples of how getting away from the tourist spots can introduce you to something even better.
Though I’d like to end by noting that no matter where you visit at the Dead Sea — or in the world — leaving trash or disrespecting the local landscape and people is never acceptable. The Dead Sea especially is a fragile environment. Visit it with care.